The 2012 Cynic Awards (part 1)
It’s the end of the year, so it’s time for all the year-end lists. For me, that means the annual cynic awards.
It was an election year, so you know there was plenty of reason for cynicism. Just as an example, this year, we got a news report that a man writing a book on “Kindness in America” was shot in a drive by — in rural Montana no less.
But, there’s more. It turns out the whole thing was staged by the alleged victim who shot himself in what authorities called “a desperate act of self promotion”.
Yes, it was that kind of year.
This year, Factcheck.org told us it was impossible to tell us which candidate was lying more than the other, but even if they could, they wouldn’t do so because it would make it seem like they were endorsing the other candidate. In other words, it is more important to seem fair than to actually be fair and report honestly.
The NSA told us that it is allowed to spy on Americans phone conversations, but they cannot tell us how many calls they listen to — because that would violate our privacy.
The amount of money in politics went from obscene to comically ridiculous. For sheer excess, look to Mitt Romney who entertained his donors with Olympic-hopeful ski jumpers.
But, for utter crassness, the president takes the cake with his data-driven approach. Online ads invited readers to wish the family dog Bo a happy three-year anniversary as part of the Obama family. Of course, in doing so, you are giving the campaign all of your contact information.
My favorite, though, had to be the wedding registry. If you were getting married this year, there was no need ask your family and friends for that new gravy boat. Instead, just have them click a link and donate to the Obama campaign.
President Obama wasn’t the only one slicing and dicing the electorate by demographic categories. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) sent voters a picture of his family. Jewish voters got the full family photo with the candidate’s mother included. For non-Jewish voters, the mother was photoshopped out.
The political cowardice award of the year goes to Tim Pawlenty. Thinking himself clever, he nicknamed the president’s health care bill “ObamneyCare” in a television interview as a reminder to viewers that the bill was modeled after similar legislation signed by Governor Romney in Massachusetts. Asked about it in a primary debate with Romney present, Pawlenty refused to repeat the line and his campaign was sunk (along with his hopes of being nominated vice president).
The Joe McCarthy memorial award goes to congressman Alan West (R-Fla.) who opined that about 78 to 81 Democrats were members of the Communist Party. Apparently, he was referring to the entire Congressional Progressive Caucus.
West lost his re-election bid this year after a bit of redistricting and a lot of spending, though it took him a while to concede.
Speaking of redistricting, remember Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) who I mentioned in the 2010 cynic column when he’d been caught editing his opponent’s speech midsentence to make it sound nearly the opposite of what he’d actually said. Grayson lost his 2010 re-election bid by 18 percentage points, but with a bit of redistricting, he won a new seat this year by 26 points.
Think our electoral college and districting processes are democratic? Just think about these for a moment: Governor Romney lost the general election by 3.7 percentage points. But, he could have won it by a small amount and would likely have still lost the electoral college.
Similarly, the Democrats got at least a half million more votes in congressional elections this year, but didn’t come close to winning the House of Representatives.
The Democrats did pick up a couple of additional seats in the Senate, partly because a couple of
Republicans couldn’t stop talking about their unique views on rape. This prompted what may perhaps be called the overreaction of the year from Karen Hughes, former advisor to George W. Bush. In a column on politico.com, she stated: “And, if another Republican man says anything about rape other than it is a horrific, violent crime, I want to personally cut out his tongue.”
Hughes wasn’t the only Republican threatening violence on other Republicans after the election. With Grover Norquist’s hold on the party seemingly slipping, he began his usual series of threats, that he would run candidates against any Republican who violated his anti-tax pledge. In a spat with Rep. Peter King, King stated that it’s good Norquist has never met his wife because she would “knock his block off.”
To be continued next week. We’re just getting started. Coming up: sexual politics and cynicism goes local.
Michael Carley is a resident of Porterville. He can be reached at email@example.com.